I went to the MCM Birmingham Comic Con Saturday event with my partner. First of all, I was greeted by a dilemma. The Supreme Cat Show was running in the same place. Cats. Cats or Sci-Fi? Never before have I had to face such a choice. Sci-Fi won.
I felt the buzz pretty much straight away, and as I found at the London Film and Comic Con at Olympia, it was due to all the attendees in costumes…
Costumes ranged from the home-made kitchen cupboard raids, to high-end outfits of enthusiasts and charity costumers. All of which were special in their own way, whether it was obviously for the love and the fun of their fandom, to show-off skills (& budgets), or to be a walking feature for the show. A worthy mention is for the UK garrison of Star Wars costumers. If you ever see a Stormtrooper, a Darth Vader, Imperial Officer (or the odd rebel scum) ,or Royal Guard, it’s usually one of these guys. Checking out the rules of conduct for their members really makes me appreciate the lengths these guys go to in making sure their costumes are spot-on and they play their part when walking the floor. They really are a feature for any event they attend. The manga/anime costumes looked great, even though I have no idea what most of them were, and there were some awesome superhero characters in Thor, Loki, Spiderman, Bane, Green Arrow, and Wolverine. Plenty of Doctor Who costumers too, and there were some really good Cybermen costumes. The ones that stand out for me were some predators, one of which had a an alien xenomorph costumer on a leash, and there was a woman who made Sauron look sexy (yes, really), and a guy doing his bit for gender equality (or he just likes how it looks/feels–no judgment) dressed in Princess Leia’s slave girl outift. However, for all those guys in lycra body suits for the likes of Deadpool, or Spiderman, you should really be aware of super-crotch. It’s where there isn’t enough material between the contents of said crotchal area and the outside world. It’s just all there. On show. In your face. Granted, I don’t have to look, but I will borrow the mountaineers justification of death-dicing climbs for my lookin, with ‘because it is there’. I’m not complaining really, just thinking of the kiddies. They are level with those lycra sausage shows. And the venues get very crowded. Think of the therapy bills for the next generation of geeks. With great crotchal definition, comes great responsibility. Disguise that super hero schlong. Do it. Do it for the children.
I’m not a fan of celebrities. It’s often the story and characters I love, not the person playing the character in the story (even though these all hinge on their performance). A big thing at these conventions are the actors and artistes offering autographs and greets. I didn’t do any, but do get a buzz out of seeing the people there in the flesh. Once I had recovered from the enigma that was Shane Richie and Jesse Wallace (who, in fairness had a huge draw), it was great seeing some actors from 60s Doctor Who–William Russel (Ian Chestorton), Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot), and Anneke Wills (Polly Wright), and seeing them getting the love they deserve on Doctor Who’s 51st birthday weekend. Ah, sentimental nostalgia. Then I had a shock. Fenella Fielding was there. It was a shock, because I genuinely thought she was no longer with us. I had to do a Patrick Stewart quadruple-take. Fenalla Fielding now joins the ranks of celebrities I have killed off by assuming they must be dead by now. Sorry, Miss Fielding, I’m very glad you’re not, and it was great to see you in the flesh.
Sights & Events
Not so much really. At least, not that interested me and my other half. Robot Wars and a Main Stage. The Steam Punk corner was good, but we didn’t hang about there too long as we’re off to a Steam Punk convention next week. Birmingham Comic Con hadn’t really published on their site what would be on the stage, so we were taking a chance on what would be there, but expecting the main thing for us would be the costumers and vendors. There was a Star Trek talk, but that was earlier than we could have made it, so we missed that. The Red Dwarf talk was rammed before we could get a look in, and could only glimpse, Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Hattie Haybridge (Holly), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewllyn (Kryten) — but cool to see them nonetheless. Later, they had RJ Mitte (Walt Jr, Breaking Bad) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfor, Harry Potter), but again, even if we had wanted to check these out capacity was limited. In fairness, there isn’t usually much seating at these things, but here it was all within an inflatable marquee, so you couldn’t even lurk at the sidelines and get a sense of being included or see the panel guests very easily. There was a lack of feature props. Only a landspeeder replica–provided by the UK garrison, which was pretty cool, and some genuine props from a prop company. Most of which looked pretty uncared for or age worn. I did get to see a renegade Dalek from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ which my replica was molded from, so that was pretty cool. There really should be more sights at these things. Although, from my experience of the London Film and Comic Con, they are most likely to put them in separate areas and charge £15-£20 to stand next to them and have your picture taken. In fairness, these things are all about making money after all, so fair-dos.
You could argue that travelling 150 miles and paying £16 to go to what is for the most part a sci-fi market is a bit much, but outside of the Forbidden Planet stores or the rare independent shops it’s not easy getting to see some of this stuff in the flesh. There was a lot of stuff. The silicone masks of Masks-Direct were awesome. These aren’t saggy flappy latex masks in gaudy colours, but skin tight flesh looking masks that move with your expressions. Although, they are unlikely to be go-to Halloween choices due to their price, they would be great for the serious costumer or amateur horror film maker. There were some nice Doctor Who sixth scale figures by Big Chief Stuidos too, the William Hartnell and TARDIS looked great. Oh, and there were Funk Pop Heads EVERYWHERE. When the apocalypse happens, as a civilisation we will leave a legacy of a kajillion Funko Pop Heads refusing to degrade. Seriously, if your geek niche hasn’t been Popped I’d be shocked. The cool thing about the vendors area is you also get writers and artists creating and selling their creations, so you get a lot of high level comic artists and indie producers for that extra special limited run geek merchandise. ByCandlelight27 stood out for me (probably because a lot of their work uses a high contrast black and white, light and shadow, Rorschach portrait style, which I decided upon for Darkwood), they had a bunch of stylish TV and movie tie-in mugs on offer. Their Supernatural mugs caught my eye as there isn’t much merch for that show. Scandalous considering how pretty the two leads are… I was surprised at how reasonably priced some of the vintage stuff was. Much better than some of the ebay jokers out there. Except franchised Lego of course, which is always ridiculously expensive as soon as it leaves the shops.
Despite all the goodies on offer I actually managed to come away without buying any merch. Yes. I DIDN’T BUY ANY MERCHANDISE. I’m shocked by my discipline. My wallet must have been holding its breath for six or seven hours. All in all MCM Comic Con was a good day out. I may have come across a little negative around what was organised and offered, because without them we wouldn’t have our own geeky meccas, and in a way these places are like parties–its not just down to the host to make it enjoyable, it’s down to the other attendees too. People, who seem like they’re out to indulge their inner geek child, have fun, and just generally be nice, in their search for that something special from the markets, or to indulge their love for their corner of geekdom. We really must dress-up next time and do our bit. As should you. Not sure I’m brave enough for a Leia slave girl outfit, but I’ll make sure I don’t have super-crotch.
Next week… Steam Punk in Space convention.